CA: American Canyon Leaders Reject Cannabis Dispensaries, Backyard Cultivation

Photo Credit: Kodiak Greenwood

The American Canyon City Council has begun shaping its proposed ordinance on recreational marijuana activities by expressing support for home delivery and allowing indoor cultivation and manufacturing in the city’s commercial district off Green Island Road.

But council members expressed little support for allowing retail sales in American Canyon or backyard cultivation in residential neighborhoods.

No decision was made last week on the ordinance itself, which staff is still crafting.

The council decided to continue the issue to its March 20 meeting, at which time staff will offer a timeframe for when they could have a draft ordinance ready for a vote.

Tuesday night’s discussion was nearly two hours in length, with numerous residents expressing support or opposition to allowing recreational marijuana operations in the city.

Councilmembers also went out of their way to talk at length about their concerns for each issue raised.

“This is a serious topic,” said Councilmember Kenneth Leary in response to comments from some residents that the city has been dragging its feet on making a decision on recreational marijuana.

“I don’t take it lightly,” Leary said, adding that he wanted to make the right decision for his town.

Resident Heidi Zipay said she was “super disappointed in this council” for not making a decision on recreational marijuana. “Please just go forward,” she said.

At one point in the meeting the council conducted an informal straw vote on each issue so staff could get a clearer idea on how to proceed with writing the ordinance.

The straw vote revealed most council members were open to supporting home delivery of cannabis products, and permitting manufacturing or testing of such products and conducting indoor cultivation in the Green Island area only.

No council member expressed outright support for allowing dispensaries to open up in American Canyon, or to authorize the growing of marijuana plants in people’s backyards.

Prop. 64, which legalized recreational marijuana, allows individuals to grow up to six plants inside their homes.

The city has been operating under an emergency ordinance since the passage of Prop. 64 in 2016 that limits indoor marijuana cultivation to no more than six live plants, but prohibits outdoor cultivation, processing, manufacturing, distribution, testing and sale of recreational marijuana in all zoning districts.

The council in October extended the Cannabis Urgency Ordinance to May 4 to allow city leaders to participate in the Napa Countywide Cannabis Roundtable, which brought together officials from all Napa Valley jurisdictions to discuss regulations for this new industry.

City staff has conducted public outreach with numerous stakeholder groups and held a community meeting on Jan. 22 that was attended by nearly 40 residents.

They also conducted an opinion survey that received approximately 500 responses.

“Preliminary results indicate a slight majority of respondents were not in favor of personal outdoor cultivation or commercial cannabis activities,” according to a report prepared for the council.

The only issue receiving strong support in the survey (76 percent) was taxing commercial sales.

The results were compared to how American Canyon voted on Prop. 64 — 56 percent of residents said yes to the ballot measure. That was less than the “yes” vote countywide (59 percent in favor) and less than the majorities favoring it in other Napa Valley communities.

The report also informed the council that two entities — Taiga Inc. and the Napa Valley Cannabis Association — have expressed interest in establishing a cannabis retail location in American Canyon.

Also, local resident Paul Sunak informed the city that he was interested in conducting indoor cultivation and building a manufacturing facility in the city, according to the report.

Staff asked the council Tuesday night to extend the city’s emergency ordinance to Nov. 15 so they would have more time beyond the current May 4 deadline when the ordinance expires.

Councilmember David Oro questioned the need to extend the emergency ordinance until the fall, and asked staff if they could finish the permanent ordinance sooner.

Interim City Manager Jason Holley said staff was stretched thin trying to work on finalizing plans for revamping the Broadway District and the large-scale Watson Ranch project, as well as preparing an update on the city’s General Plan.

He said moving up the cannabis ordinance on staff’s priority list could mean delaying work on these other efforts.

Still, Holley said he would bring a timeline for when the cannabis ordinance might be ready at the March 20 meeting.